The impending compulsory switchover to Facebook Timeline means we no longer have to be concerned only about our time online since opening our account, but our lives pre-social media. People are going right back through the years and throwing down the gauntlet in terms of "look at me, my life has been so much better than yours". I've got Facebook friends who have been filling in Leaving Certificate results, awards won in school and stints on cheese commercials aged 6 (I kid you not). It's raising the bar in terms of personal achievement surely?
It got me thinking about C.Vs.
Look at me!
I did this!
Aren't I great?
The C.V is the original "like my post", "follow me", "let's connect".
I hate the C.V. As a jobseeker, my life revolves around it; my entire employable worth gathered together in black and white. Right?
Wrong! So much about the people we need to hire can't be conveyed in a traditional C.V.
Then there's the rules:
Keep it brief, no more than 2 pages.
Provide detail but don't waffle.
Give specific dates.
Don't give specific dates.
Give references as standard.
Don't bother with references.
Don't detail hobbies.
By the time I navigate the minefield that is the C.V template, format, rules and advice, my C.V. is no more an accurate representation of me as a person than knowing my shoe size or that I'm allergic to certain types of plasters.
There are jobs where the path is clearly defined; doctor, lawyer, cop. You go to a certain college or institution where they teach you specific skills and then you go work in one field. Simples.
However, I'm very much of the opinion that, for most people, what you don't know can most definitely be learned and less emphasis should be placed on educational experience and more on attitude to work and learning.
Question: If, like Timeline, we could see the C.Vs and applications of everyone else applying to the job we want, how would our attitudes to our own application change?
I recently had the experience of applying for a position as a social media intern. I didn't get the job but it has given me an insight into how we can miss out on the important qualities in candidates when we stick rigidly to the C.V. and cover letter format for recruiting. The job description was specific; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, blogging. As a result of the need to show off my experience with social media I was able to add another dimension to my application, something that other "traditional" job applications don't allow.
My C.V and cover letter (email) were accompanied by a link to my about.me page. Here I was able to overcome the first of my C.V. hurdles: "To hobby or not to hobby?" I used my about.me page to highlight the sort of stuff I get up to when I'm not at work. I then included links to this blog, my public LinkedIn profile and my Twitter account. So far so social. I was already providing this company with a much greater insight into me as a person than any other potential employer ever and, for the first time in a long time, I felt I was selling me and not just "work" me.
So my job hunt has me examining my achievements and Facebook has me examining my experiences and there are many times where these overlap. It got me thinking as to the relevance of some life experiences and how the traditional C.V makes no allowances for them.
I spent some wonderful years working for local radio station Dublin's Q102. During my time there I drove Betsy: the official station ice-cream van, posed as a mermaid in City Hall for the St. Patrick's Day treasure hunt, went door to door dressed as Santa Claus in June, performed the YMCA on a packed DART during morning rush-hour and orchestrated a bus ambush where we stormed various buses around Dublin, handing out free Pat The Baker products. All of these, whilst great memories in themselves, speak to the sort of person I am and the type of employee I am; I'll do what is asked, I'm not afraid to make a total eejit of myself and I'm willing to go the extra mile (that was a handmade mermaid costume, by the way). Of course you'll find none of these on my C.V. I'm very proud of a promotion I ran for that same radio station in 2007. It was called "The Summer of 10,000 Tickets" and I was solely responsible for it. I sourced the tickets, coordinated the schedules, put together all the briefs for the on-air staff. So fantastically good was I at it that I managed to extend the promotion by 2 hours a day and a further 12 days in total before it had even started. So far so C.V. What I can't put in my C.V. is that I was suffering from kidney failure at the time and coordinated the final details for the promotion, post-op, from a bed in the renal ward in St. Vincent's University Hospital. My C.V. also won't tell you that 2 weeks after surgery I was out coordinating new team members for the massive event that was the midnight launch of the final Harry Potter book. There was a time I was holding down 3 jobs. Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm I was working in a genetic research lab. In the evenings I was working for an events company handing out glasses of bubbly to socialites and yummy mummies in high-end department stores and weekends were spent working for the radio station and fitting in more lab experiments. None of this can make the C.V without sounding waffley and, let's be honest, a little self-indulgent. Yet it all speaks volumes about my personality and my work-ethic; when I commit to a project I'm going to commit the hell out of it!
At what point can we get rid of the CV? I'd love to see social media spell the end of the CV. Cheerio to the "I look like I'm better than you on paper" attitude to job hunting.
Someday I'll be in the position to hire some new recruits; I won't be asking for CV's or application forms, I'll be asking them to engage with me, and my company, on any level they'd like. There will be no application forms with tricky questions, I'll simply ask them to sell themselves to me as a person, as a brand and not just as an employee.
Never hire someone whom you can't see outgrowing the company one day. They are the people who will help you take it to the next level.